But it technically wouldn't be a car.
The BMW Isetta is the world's most recognizable bubble car. Built from 1955 to 1962, the Isetta was the perfect product for BMW during Germany's post-war recession, when many buyers couldn't afford full-size cars. While wandering around the IAA Motor Show in Munich, we stumbled upon a new car that looks suspiciously like a modern-day Isetta. It comes from a Swiss company called Micro Mobility Systems, and it's named (adorably) the Microlino.
This is not the first time a company has attempted to recapture the magic of the bubble car, but this is the first time we've heard of one possibly coming to the United States. A company spokesperson on the auto show floor told CarBuzz that the Microlino could make to the US in one of two ways.
The first method involves deleting one of the rear wheels, turning the Microlino into a three-wheeler. This would allow Micro to sell it as a street-legal autocycle, much like the Morgan Three-Wheeler, Polaris Slingshot, or Vanderhall Venice. The other method involves importing the car as an NEV (neighborhood electric vehicle), like a golf cart. NEVs are currently legal in 46 states but can only travel on roads with a speed limit under 35 mph.
So, why should you care about the Microlino coming to the US? Well, aside from looking positively adorable from every angle, we think it would be a cool city/town vehicle for someone who might otherwise buy a golf cart or used EV. The Microlino will come in three editions - Urban, Dolce, and Competizione - each with different range and performance figures. The base model can travel around 60 miles on a charge, while the larger battery models can travel between 108 to 143 miles, which is nearly the same as a BMW i3.
In terms of performance, the Microlino tops out at around 56 mph, so it would not fair well on an American highway. But don't think this car is sluggish, as Micro claims it can clock 31 mph in only five seconds. That's plenty quick to pop down to the shops in your small-to-medium town.
Like the Isetta, the Microlino's single door is forward-facing, making ingress and egress a bit tricky for less flexible drivers, and less practical than a golf cart for older customers. Once you are inside, the interior feels surprisingly roomy with plenty of glass and an available, retracting fabric roof. CarBuzz was told a cabriolet version may arrive in the future.
The Microlino features seating for a driver and one passenger, plus a little over eight cubic feet of storage in the trunk, making it more practical than a motorcycle or scooter. There aren't many luxurious features like navigation or a built-in radio, but there is a small touchscreen to control the heating and an available Bluetooth speaker.
Pricing for the Microlino has not been finalized, but CarBuzz was told it would start at around 12,500 euros (including VAT), which is around $14,700 doing a straight conversion to USD. That's more expensive than the average golf cart, but the Microlino is much quicker and more interesting. The car is slated for production in Italy, but Micro is currently looking for a partner to build and sell it stateside. If the Microlino does come to the US, we can't wait to try it.